I hope you’re doing alright and are in good spirits and health! It’s quiet here in Victoria Falls. Our borders are closed; there is no tourism. Locals venture out in small groups and under curfew restrictions and, like in many parts of the world, wildlife is venturing into town, revisiting lost real estate. It didn’t take our furred and feathered brethren long. Just weeks into COVID-19 the elephants, lions and others started coming a little closer and staying a little longer.
As these animals get braver, wildlife conflict becomes more frequent and more dangerous for both people and wildlife. Our Community Guardian 24/7 wildlife mitigation hotline is receiving significantly more calls to chase elephants and lions out of new settlement areas and rural crop fields. Because of the loyal support from our donors and friends, we have so far had the capacity to respond to most calls for help. It’s so important that we have the funds to continue; if we don’t the animals run the risk of being branded “problem animals” and being destroyed.
Thanks to the support of our donors and friends, we have been able to respond to unusually high incidents of snaring this year . In the last few months we’ve removed more than 20 snares – that’s equivalent to all the snares we removed in 2019! Sometimes, we’re unable to find a reported animal or unable to respond to in time. Last weekend we were called to rescue a hippo still tethered to a tree on an island in the Zambezi River. It only took us 30 minutes to reach it but we were too late. It was killed and carted off across the river into Zambia. More funds would help us to be more nimble and increase our capacity to be more reactive so that we can rescue more wildlife
Photos (from left to right): 1) Our rescue team removes a snare from the ankle of a waterbuck. 2) This elephant calf was dragging a snare that was pulled tighter and tighter each time it stepped on it. We had to immobilize the mother as well so that they wouldn’t be separated. All went well and mom and baby walked off happily to join the herd. 3) This multi-stranded snare was removed from around a warthog’s mouth that was interfering with feeding. 4) Large rope snares like this are deliberately set to capture large animals like giraffes, which provide a large amount of meat for a hungry family.
Our team removed a snare from this leopard’s thorax, seen here just under her arms. Although rather deeply embedded, we were able to successfully treat the wound. She immediately started eating once she recovered and we believe the chance of a full recovery are good.
Please note this video might be a little graphic for some viewers.
The Trust’s founders realized long ago that wildlife protections are just not sustainable if we don’t address the extreme poverty prevalent in Zimbabwe. Even our best conservation efforts won’t succeed without programs that address agriculture initiatives, education and job security – especially as we cope and recover from COVID.
The Trust addresses these poverty issues through our sustainable livelihood programs, which include vaccinating, dipping and predator-proof night enclosures for livestock, promoting sustainable and revenue-producing crops, and stewarding viable career interests in tourism, conservation and natural sciences.
I am extremely fortunate to be part of a team of people who are steering The Trust through these times. These moments of success – made possible because of our supporters – are especially important for wildlife. I am also grateful for your unwavering support.
Please renew your support for this important work and give a gift today. There is a return back to normalcy from all of this; we just need your help to keep our foot on the gas.
For Wild Africa,
P.S. I can see the majestic Victoria Falls from where I sit. She is pumping more than 1 Million Liters of water per second over its edge creating a wall of smoke visible for nearly 50 kilometers away. Looking forward to sharing it with you again soon.
None of this remarkable work would be possible without our donors who continue to support our work standing by us through thick and thin. Knowing that you care,
and are willing to help Zimbabwe’s wildlife and people given the challenges
that you’re almost certainly faced with will not soon be forgotten by us.
We stand in awe and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We
hope you stay well and that any challenges you’re
facing are not insurmountable.